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March 1, 2012Rivalry games in college basketball generally consist of disgust, heated emotion and a sense of hatred shared between both teams.
Although this may hold true for the Arizona State and Arizona basketball teams Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena, the same can't be said for its head coaches.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller is quite familiar with ASU head coach Herb Sendek, serving under him as an assistant coach for seven years.
Since serving under Sendek, Miller has become one of the most prestigious coaches on the college basketball scene, holding a 187-79 combined record as a head coach at both Xavier and Arizona.
"Sean has risen to the top of our profession and has done a great job, both at Xavier and now at Arizona," Sendek said.
Miller isn't the only successful head coach who served as an assistant on one of Sendek's former teams, though. Sendek has nine other former assistant coaches who are currently head coaches in college basketball -- the largest coaching tree of any head coach in Division I basketball. Entering Thursday, all 10 coaches share a 182-112 combined record this season, with only two having losing seasons for the year.
"I'm thrilled for all those guys," Sendek said. "They've, to a man, gone on and done exceptionally well. We have a number of guys who are enjoying fantastic careers."
ASU junior guard Trent Lockett believes this is an impressive accomplishment for Sendek.
"It just shows the kind of coach he is," Lockett said. "He's mentored many coaches, and he obviously comes from a great coaching tree with (Louisville head coach Rick) Pitino, and he coached with (Minnesota head coach) Tubby Smith and (Florida head coach Billy) Donovan. He's got a good coaching family around him."
Still, Sendek doesn't focus too much on his relationship with Miller heading into Sunday's game. Instead, Sendek sees the matchup as a chance to redeem ASU's 68-51 loss against Arizona on Dec. 31 earlier this season.
"Arizona obviously is playing really well right now; they're an outstanding team," he said. "We know we've got to play a great deal better than we did in Tucson at the end of December."
Lockett agreed with his coach's comments and said even without the sour taste of losing to Arizona on New Years Eve, the team still has plenty of motivation to close out its season by defeating its rival.
"Anytime we have the opportunity to play UofA, our in-state rival, I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be crazy," Lockett said. "It means a lot to our school and our community, so we'll be ready to go on Sunday."
"We might have to fly in or bring in some seniors to help our cause then," Sendek said jokingly. "Maybe have a senior student body tryout at the spur of the moment just so we can keep our streak alive."